Traveling with cancer, whether for treatment or for pleasure, can be safe and enjoyable if you plan ahead. You may consider traveling to take part in a clinical trial, or perhaps, you have been putting off that trip of a lifetime. The first step is to make an appointment and discuss your travel plans with your doctor. When is the best time to travel? Many physicians recommend not flying for 10 days after surgery, and for up to a month after chest surgery. Are there destinations she would or would not recommend? Check out these ideas on what to consider and what to bring before you begin packing.
1. Medical Records
2. Health Insurance
4. Medical Care at Your Destination
5. Air Travel
6. General Travel Health
- Chemotherapy can affect your immune system and predispose you to infections that otherwise might not be a problem. Choose bottled water if only well water is available or you are uncertain if the water is safe. Avoid ice cubes.
- Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Pack protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Minimize exposure during midday, especially in tropical climates.
- If you have anemia, flying and changes in elevation can worsen your symptoms. Discuss this with your doctor prior to traveling.
7. Coping During Travel
8. Blood Clot (DVT) Prevention
- When traveling by plane, stand up at least once an hour and walk around. Many international flights actually offer a video on leg exercises to do to lower the risk of blood clots. Choose an aisle seat if possible, and ask if bulkhead seats (more legroom) are available when you make your reservations.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Ask your oncologist if you should wear compression stockings during flights and long car rides. Your doctor may recommend that you take aspirin or receive a single injection of low molecular weight heparin as a preventative measure.
9. International Travel
- Make sure the food you eat is cooked thoroughly. Peel fruits. Avoid ice, and stick with bottled water.
- You may need a letter from your doctor if you are taking narcotic pain medications. You will also want to make sure these are legal in the countries you will be traveling to.
- Keep a list of a few important words and phrases with you such as your diagnosis, and how to ask for emergency help.
Aerospace Medical Association. Medical Guidelines for Airline Travel, 2nd Edition. 2003. http://www.asma.org/publications/medicalguideline.php
Federal Aviation Administration. Special Federal Aviation Regulation. Use of Certain Portable Oxygen Concentrator Devices Onboard Aircraft. Accessed 08/04/10. http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library%5CrgFar.nsf/0/E51661CBF42E65C6862571E800593C2F?OpenDocument
Coker, R. et al. Is air travel safe for those with lung disease?. European Respiratory Journal. 2007. 30:1057-63.
Transportation Security Administration. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions. Air Travel. Accessed 05/12/09. http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm